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tv   This Is America With Dennis Wholey  PBS  July 10, 2011 10:00am-10:30am EDT

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>> "this is america" visits the ancient world. we will visit the pillar of st. paul in cyprus, pat tried in jordan, and the pyramids in egypt. do not go away. >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals.
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the singapore tourism board. there is something for everyone. singapore airlines. a great way to fly. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the rotondaro family trust. the ctc foundation. afo communications. and the american life tv network. >> one of the most important sites in cyprus is the color of st. paul -- pillar of st. paul. the bible says paul was tied to this bill and was whipped 40 to christianity. this location represents the first location of christianity in europe. before visiting the pillar of st. paul, i spoke with the
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archbishop to understand the importance of st. paul's visit to cyprus. >> what do we know about st. paul and cyprus? >> this is the first church founded by saint paul in 45 a.d. when he came, he was not an apostle. he became an apostle. with his speech, his first miracle, he succeeded to make christian the roman governor. he became an apostle. paul anded his name to cal
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became the apostle of the nation's. the relationship with paul and cyprus are very close. he made the people of cyprus become christians and he baptized the first governor. this was the gate to christianize europe. >> after speaking with his beatitude the archbishop, we traveled west to visit the pillar of st. paul. our guide gave us some further information about this wonderful, historic site. >> we are now in a very historic spot. tell me. >> imagine, here behind us, we have almost 2000 years old
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christianity. on this pillar, as the bible says, he was whipped here 40 tinker's dna. of course, he was able to convince the romans to christianity. -- here for christianity. behind me, you can see the largest and probably oldest church in cyprus. you see these marble columns, the mosaic floor. an incredible building of the first christian period, destroyed in the seventh century. later, when the crusaders came here, they built a church on this side in the 13th century.
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when that was destroyed, the one that we see behind us now replaced it and became the church of the fishing village. since then, it is used by everyone here. different days, different hours, they use it for their own services. it is incredible what is happening here. >> we have just returned from cyprus, a wonderful country with a 12,000-year history. sad to say, it is a divided country today. we had the unique opportunity to speak with some of the country's senior leaders and visit some of its most spectacular and historic sites. so keep an eye out for three very special programs, "this is america visits the republic of cyprus."
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in cairo, egypt, we had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the pyramids. >> we are in the area of the sphinx,a giz plateau. when you come to egypt, for the first time, and you stand in front of the pyramids, you look at it and people wonder how was it built? why was it built? this is why i have been revealing the secrets of these pyramids for the last 35 years. >> who is that? >> kufu was the king of the second dynasty in egypt. he was married to three ladies, their pyramids are billed to the east. he was a wise man.
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people always wonder about these pyramids. we do have 123 pyramids in egypt. all of them come the kings and queens. the gate pyramid, people wonder about this all the time. >> what is the definition of a step pyramid? >> a pyramid made up by steps. it is like stairs that the king would take to heaven, the sun god. i always say, the pyramid built egypt. building the pyramids meant that we knew about art, technology, astronomy. just south of the pyramids, we found some tombs that can tell
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us about the builders of the pyramid. when you come to something like this, you only know about the kings and queens, not the egyptians who built the pyramids. >> what i gather is, as many as 20,000 people involved? >> 10,000. different numbers in books and from people. >> they are not slaves, are they? >> no, we can prove that. the rooms where they stayed were built inside the pyramid. all of these town that were used for the pyramid came from a nearby quarry. the casing, which is a fine limestone, which you can still
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see at the top, came from another quarry. >> how far away is that? >> 3 miles from here. >> where are we in relationship to the nile? >> we are located 4 miles west of the nile. there was a canal -- i did discover this -- connecting the nile with the pyramids. to bring all of these non-local stones, they had to bring them here through the canal. this is why the nile was important to the egyptians. the stones weighed between half a ton to 2.5 tons. the base of the pyramid was made mostly out of solid rock. the base of the pyramid was about 27 feet high, solid rock.
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but when they had the height of the pyramid, they had ramps and they would build it up and remove them away. the big pyramid is for kufu and his son. >> so this is all a family affair? >> yes, exactly. you will also see tombs of the queens and to the east, the children and the nobles. to the west, the officials who helped to build. all of this is the soul of the community. they will all in join their life in paradise with the king. the question of immortality bill to egypt. >> what blows you away?
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>> i have lived in this house. what is amazing about this place, when i come here every day, i see the pyramids are different from yesterday. that is the magic of the pyramids. >> how has the spinks weathered the last 4500 years? >> the sphinx suffered a lot. some of the problems came about because of bad restoration. more than water, timidity, heat. people would use cement to repair it. cement can eat into the stone. in 1998, the sphinx lost its right shoulder, one year after it came from the states.
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it was like a red flag to everyone. i spent 10 years restoring the sphinx, taking out the cement, putting in stone. i can say that the sphinx is safe, but it is the oldest sixth person on earth. we have to be near it all the time. -- sick person on earth. i am trying to accommodate the sphinx and the needs of tourists. in a few months, you will not be seeing cars or camels in front of the pyramids. how can you park your car in front of the pyramid? this is a dream of mine and i will finish it. i feel like i am protecting the pyramids. >> thank you, doctor. thank you for the education. >> the minimum time you need in
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petra is a full day, if you just want to see one-tenth of it. maybe less. it is an amazing city that continues to surprise you at each and every station. >> today, we visit the ancient city of petra, in jordan. we will take a tour of the side with an archaeologist chris powell. petra is an asian city of ruins located in jordan. about three hours' drive from the capital city of amman. to enter this city, you enter a cut into the mountains called a seek. this ancient city is called -- surrounded by mountains in the desert and was built more than
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2000 years ago by a group called the nabateans. >> what do we know about the group of people who established this city? >> very little, actually, in the scheme of things. the nabateans -- >> we do not really know that term. >> we do not even know where it originated. we first saw it in rome at the end of the first century bc, with a greek philosopher writing about it. this is their capital city. you would arrive in the plaza in front of this monument, today known as the treasury. in fact, it is a better when name from the 19th century. when people settled here from that time period, and the better ones did not know who could have made this.
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they bought the closest thing was egypt and everything was carol. so it became the treasury of their rope. but in reality, it is a tune- temple for the royal dynasty of the nabateans. there was a massive central staircase that started from here to the entrance. it would have also been painted in bright colors. it would have had a coating of went pastor -- white plaster. >> household might this be? >> it was finished in the last 25 years of the first century. >> the architecture seems -- was a greek or roman? >> it is what we call hellenistic. the closest parallel is the architecture from alexandria.
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the iconography is very great. gregory egyptian. the symbol you see is the crown of isis. the figure on the central round portion, that is iolsis, hding a cornucopia. on each side of ours, dancing figures, and a winged figure. lower dow o we have a medusa or goddess face surrounded by vegetation. on each side of that, winged lions facing out. images of the abundance. you notice all the bases were chiseled away. that would unintentionally. we do not know if that was done by the nabateans, if it was done by the iconoclastic christians, or the iconoclastic muslims. >> d moving further into pet,
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the magnitude of the site is overwhelming. buildings and mountains actually blend together. it is easy to see and experience why petra has become one of today's great tourist destinations. >> we are in the middle of the desert and we are in petra. does the word have significance? >> it does. petra actually means rock in the greek. the nabatean name was different. their name is variously translated, but we think it comes from the root of derogation. in both cases, the name of the city seems to have been given by the name of its environment. for the break, rock. for the nabateans, maybe the color banding of the stones.
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>> who were the nabateans? >> they were and arabic people who seemed to have come out of the desert, the magic's -- nomadic, adopted hellenistic architecture and created a kingdom in the region. at the height of the city that we are going to see in a few minutes, we had 30,000 people that could've lived here. >> how big an area is petra? >> the city center is several kilometers square. the part that encompasses the overr city center is 260,000 kilometers. >> american scientists have been working with jordanian institutions, both government and academic, uncovering the history of petra. one of the most dramatic examples of their work lies in
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the city center. >> we are overlooking the brown university petra temple project. this project has been worked on for over 17 years. the original level of soil deposits when this project began was at the height of this tree. so you get a sense of how much soil and rubble and stone had to be moved to uncover this monument. this is one of the most fascinating projects. this is a large, public garden. in the middle of the summer, and nabateans would have a large pool. what you see is an island with a pavilion at sat on this gigantic pool, with gardens and bushes in front of it. they had enough water to do this. >> when we are talking about excavation of a larger area like this, who is doing the work? >> one of the great advantages
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of these large exhibition projects is it provides employment for local folks. they would hire between 30 and 70 workmen for the season. we are working hard to create jobs for the local community. >> we are standing outside of little petra, an agricultural capital of the city. we have a collection of dining areas and installations for the people who live in this village. inside little pat dry is one monument known as the painted house. it was long lost to the modern era because of damage caused by mahu activity. it has now been restored. it is the most unique bit of
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temperate painting. >> archaeology. what is that? >> archaeology is investigating the past by going through the vestiges of human occupation. >> what is your role here, in petra? >> i work for the american center of oriental research. i manage projects. we do field work, conservation, a lot of preservation and restoration. we help with tourism development projects. we did this excavation. this is a byzantine church in petra, built some time in the late 400 to 500's a.d. we continue to managefo ts hir s e pa.
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>> we have not gone into the history of petra. >> this is a long after the roman annexation. the city continued to be a metropolis read until the 600's. what we have is after the roman prior converted to christianity with konstantin, we see all the cities in the middle east starting to build churches within 150 years. so we have a thriving christian community here, right until the early 600's. >> we talked about the church, the temple. in the business of archaeology, how much is digging, uncovering things? and once you have uncovered things, how much is restoration of what you think you have found? >> good question.
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petra is a difficult project. we are working with sandstone. it is fragile, it decomposes easily once exposed to the elements. we have to weigh all the options. do we uncovered stop just to make it visible for the tourists? in those deposits, are we actually answering scientific questions? >> you have come up on the tomb is, the temple, the church here. the treasury, which is a tune as well. what are you looking for? >> what is the holy grail of nabatean of archaeology? >> and of petra. >> everyone has their own agenda but there are several. i would like to find the marketplace, actual evidence of this city's participation in the
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trade. we talk about nabatean trade but we do not have any evidence on the ground. >> we know that this was a hotel, in a way, but we do not know that trading happened here. i would love to find out how that happened. the second really valuable thing to find would be -- the nabatean were very literate people. they were one of the few polyglot people. we know this from the inscriptions on the walls, but we do not have any text written by the nabateans that talk about their own history. >> how long have you been working here on site? >> six years. >> will you continue here? >> god willing, i will spend the
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rest of my life here. there will be a day when petra is not here anymore. this is sandstone. the best thing we can do is try to keep consciousness a lot about the importance of this site and get support for continued work to document and educate and record everything we can about this site before it disappears. not in my lifetime or in the lifetime of our great, great grandchildren, but someday, it will be gone. if we do not have the technical sources, we will forget. everything we know now about this area is through archaeology. >> thank you. terrific. >> for online video of all "this is america" programs, visit our website, "this is america" is made possible by --
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the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. the singapore tourism bs is som. singapore airlines. a great way to fly. poonsang corp. the rotondaro family trust. the ctc foundation. afo communications. afo communications. and the american life
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